Inside Project Managers' Paychecks: PMI Salary Survey Results

The Project Management Institute's (PMI) latest salary survey reveals what project managers earn, how their salaries fared during the worst of the recession, and the factors that positively or negatively affect their earnings.

By
Thu, April 22, 2010

CIO — Despite the global recession, historic unemployment and massive corporate budget cuts, U.S. project managers are largely optimistic about their salaries in 2010, according to data from the Project Management Institute's (PMI) recently released 2009 Project Management Salary Survey.

Two-thirds (67 percent) of project management professionals in the U.S. expect their salaries to improve in 2010. Only 4 percent think their salaries will decrease this year, while 29 percent see stagnating wages in their future.

During the worst of the global recession, between fall 2008 and fall 2009, American project managers who managed to hold onto their jobs didn't fare too poorly, compared to professionals in other fields: 53 percent earned a raise (though most raises amounted to between 1 percent and 3 percent of their salaries), 34 percent went through a salary freeze, and 14 percent experienced a pay cut.

The median base salary for a project management professional in the U.S. is $100,000. Three-fourths of survey respondents earn more than $84,000 per year, and one-fourth of survey respondents take home an annual base salary of more than $120,000.

PMI's salary survey also reveals what project management professionals earn according to a variety of variables, including:

  • their title

  • educational background

  • whether they hold a PMP certification (and how long they've held it)

  • the department they work in

  • their industry

  • the type of project they work on (e.g. construction, IT, R&D)

  • the average size of their project team and budget

  • gender

Here's a look at how project managers' salaries fare along each of those criteria.

Salary by Title

Project managers' salaries are, not surprisingly, a function of their rank inside their organizations as well as their level of experience. Thus, entry-level project managers earn the least (the median salary for a project management specialist in the U.S. is $85,000), while directors of project management earn the most, with a median annual salary of $123,000. Project management consultants also do well: Their median salary is $105,000. The medians for other project management titles include:

Project Manager I: $84,000
Project Manager II: $90,000
Project Manager III: $99,000
Program Manager: $110,000
Portfolio Manager: $117,000

Salary by Educational Background

Just as title and experience positively influence a project management professional's salary, so too does their level of education. Project managers with Master's degrees and PhDs earn more than project managers who hold Bachelor's degrees. Here are the median salaries for project management professionals according to their highest level of education:

High School Degree: $88,000
Some College or Associate's Degree: $90,000
Bachelor's Degree: $98,000
Master's Degree: $105,000
Doctoral Degree: $114,000

Salary by Certification

Survey data shows that the longer project management professionals hold PMI's PMP certification, the higher their salaries. Consider the median salaries of project management professionals according to how long they've held a PMP:

Less than 1 year: $86,000
1 to 5 years: $100,000
5 to 10 years: $108,206
10 to 20 years: $118,000

Don't have a PMP certification? Don't worry too much. Project management professionals who lack a PMP still pull a median annual salary of $91,000. (For more information on the importance of project management certifications, see Why Project Management Certifications Matter.)

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